posts 1 - 15 of 20
Boston, US
Posts: 350


Scott S. Greenberger, “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” Washington Post, August 3, 2017.

Scott Horsley, “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” National Public Radio (NPR), August 31, 2016.

John Bargh, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions,” Washington Post, November 22, 2017.

A short interview with Jacob Soboroff (NBC reporter) on his book Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, 2020 [5:55]

Jorge Ramos, Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind, 2020 [7:07] [scroll down in the doc for the video] IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE ACCESSING THIS, try this:


NOTE: We will have watched in class already Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border (2018) [54 minutes]

Here are several quotes to consider:

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.

But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

― President Theodore Roosevelt (served 1901-1909),

in a letter to the president of the American Defense Society, January 3, 1919.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

--President Franklin D. Roosevelt(served 1933-1945), at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Convention, Washington, DC, April 21, 1938

“Rather than making them, of talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back, and cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now, with that unemployment, that probably keeps the lid from blowing off…And I think we could have a fine relationship.”

― President Ronald Reagan (served 1981-1989), while debating George H.W. Bush during the Republican primary, 1980.

“Yo no soy mexicano. Yo no soy gringo. Yo no soy chicano. No soy gringo en USA y mexicano en Mexico. Soy chicano en todas partes. No tengo que asimilarme a nada. Tengo mi propia historia.”

-- Carlos Fuentes, from Le Frontera de cristal, 1997.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

-- Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (2011)

We've been talking about the outright hostility about admitting Asian folks into this country. And we could take that further and look at the immigration bans that were instituted almost immediately after Donald Trump took office in 2017, directed at not only immigrants but people more broadly traveling from a number of predominantly Muslim countries. Keep in mind, this was not only an issue under Donald Trump. As you’ll see from Scott Horsley’s article for NPR, Barack Obama was enforcing immigration laws and deporting folks as well.

But of course, the cri de coeur that we’ve heard most often in the United States in recent years is the sheer rhetoric about people coming from “south of the border.” Rhetoric and impassioned speeches led to border walls, child separations, deportations, incarcerations, asylum seekers stuck in Mexico or returned to dangerous homelands—in other words, nightmares beyond words.

So….what motivates people who are already in the United States (or for that matter, any other nation around the world that is confronting the desire of others to migrate—often for urgent, compelling, desperate reasons—to their country) to oppose immigration? Unless you are indigenous or forcibly brought to this country, theoretically you are all descended from immigrants who chose to come here.

So why do somedescendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration? Using the readings (yes, be specific!) and the films (yes, cite them too!) you watched, try to answer this question…as well as this one: What do fear and anxiety have to do with it? And provide specific examples that support your view.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

"No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark": Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

The United States was founded and built by immigrants: British immigrants established our independent country, Irish immigrants provided an abundant labor source that funded exportation in the 19th century Northeast, Chinese immigrants built railroads, allowing the country to expand westward. The United State's immense power and position as a first world country is the direct result of immigrants. But despite this, many "Americans" wish to close the borders. They have made it abundantly clear that immigrants are no longer welcome. This history of anti-immigration began with discrimination against the Chinese. As outlined in the article "‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act," the Chinese Exclusion Act "barred Chinese laborers from entering the country for 20 years, and denied citizenship to the Chinese already here." This history is furthered by thousands more anti-immigration laws, most recently the immigration ban of Muslim countries.

Many immigrants have to undergo extreme conditions just to get to America, such as crossing the Darien gap, only to be met by hatred, discrimination and often deportation. One interviewee in the PBS documentary wished to spread knowledge of these hardships. He said he would not have made the trip across the Gap if he'd have known what was ahead. If immigrants can even make it to the border, as many die in travel, they are met with cages and inhumane treatment. As outlined in the video "'Separated' author Jacob Soboroff: 'Things are arguably worse than they were two years ago'," immigrants are forced to stay in detention centers for months, sleeping in cages on the ground. Families are separated, and around 5200 children have been taken away from their parents. Immigrating to the US is a strenuous and inhumane process that provides very little reward for most; the famous "American Dream" is almost non-existent.

Those who manage to make it to the US and gain residency are often not met with kinder circumstances: the loyalty of Japanese-Americans was questioned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and thousands of Japanese were forcibly removed and placed into concentration camps, Irish-Americans were treated as a disease and forced to live and work in inhumane conditions, Asian-Americans were/are actively discriminated against and the victims of numerous race-based hate crimes. Immigrants, after their strenuous journeys, are met with nothing but poverty and discrimination. Even the President considered immigrants a "disease," as outlined in the article "On Fear and its effect on political views." Propaganda has been widely spread, indicting immigrants for any and all problems in the US. President Donald Trump inspired fear in white Americans by blaming immigrants for the spread of COVID-19, stealing jobs and numerous other American issues. This false information has caused white Americans to target minority groups, leading to events like the murder of Vincent Chin. There is widespread fear of immigrants throughout America, and when immigrants and their children are targeted within this "haven for immigrants," they are discouraged and some do not support the immigration of others.

For many, legal immigration is impossible because of the US's low rates of asylum. The article "5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws'' discusses the treatment of illegal immigrants. Scott Horsley explains that "removal carries stiffer consequences and it's increasingly carried out without judicial review." Immigrants often don't receive just judicial process promised under US law and are forced to return to their potentially-dangerous home country. It is important to remember that, as Warsan Shire says in "Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth," “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Immigrants will give up everything for a chance of survival in the US, but are often just turned right around and sent back. From this active hatred of immigrants, particularly of minority groups, stems this opposition by recent immigrants.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Anti-immigration sentiment is something that has existed and will exist for as long as there are borders. It stems from the ultimate fear of every human; fear of the unknown, or those that don't look like you. That is the major issue to me, and all of the offshoot problems of immigration and its reception eventually go back to this one idea.

The best place to see this in American history is in "Cheap slaves". This idea of "stealing" jobs, that these foreigners are so different from us that they become dangerous. Except neither of those statements make any sense. Chinese immigrants never "stole" jobs, they came here looking for work and they found it, doing work literally no one else would. The best anti-Chinese immigration argument you could make would be that they worked as scabs for companies while workers were striking. And yes, that is not good for anyone involved, but it's no reason to exclude all immigration from China.

The second idea of immigrants being harmful is best thought in "On Fear and its effect on political views". Fear is always the greatest factor in decision making, and its interesting and also a bit terrifying to see how conservative politicians speak, preying on terror and uncertainty, while grouping races and immigrants into broad terms. The infamous generalization by president Trump of Mexican immigrants being "rapists and drug dealers" a good example. We all know this to not be true, not even close. However, those are things that people fear, and if you build yourself as a bastion of safety against danger, the timid will vote for you.

In one of the rare things Ronald Reagan has said that I agree with, he outlines the biggest problem with anti-immigration policies that was present then, and continues now: "Rather than making them, of talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back, and cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now, with that unemployment, that probably keeps the lid from blowing off…And I think we could have a fine relationship.”

If we close out the border to immigrants, they're going to come here anyway. No matter how many fences you put up or patrol guards, uncertain danger is always better than imminent death. If you want to get rid of illegal immigrants, it is incredibly easy: Make it legal to emigrate.

Curious George
Boston, MA
Posts: 17

No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark

Many Americans are against immigration because they know that corporations prefer cheap labor and will hire whoever works for the cheapest. According to Greenberg of the Washington Post, in the late 19th century, American workers were beginning to unite to protest for minimum wages, but they hated Chinese immigrants because they feared that they’d lose the little power they had over corporations. They also hated the skin color of Chinese people and their unfamiliar customs. At the end of the day, any non-white person is a threat to American freedom. Although Irish and German immigrants were looked down upon, “whiteness” mutated to accept them to gain power, and now, they represent how working hard pays off.

Something that stuck out to me the most was during an interview in the documentary, a woman pointed out that state officials who are anti-immigration will always make an us vs. them situation. Either let crime infiltrate our country and lose your jobs or separate families and force them back to their dangerous homes. There is no room for reform or assimilation.

This ties in with the Yale study because it shows that the fear of physical threat makes people’s political and social attitudes become more conservative. This explains why republicans rely on fear as a motivator to gain votes.

Some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants oppose immigration because they equate it with illegal immigration. I believe if they came legally, they’d look down upon those who came illegally. And even if they’re both considered immigrants, they came from different backgrounds, under different circumstances, for different reasons.

They are also not seen as humans. In Jacob Soboroff’s interview, he revealed that Katie Miller, Former Press Secretary to the Vice President of the United States, still did not feel compassionate towards separated families at the border after visiting it. As the title “Out of Sight and Out of Mind” suggests, many forget about the children who have yet to be reunited with their parents due to our government’s poor record keeping, clearly they weren’t planning to put them back together.

Although republicans are responsible for the separation and deportation of thousands of immigrants, democrats are not innocent either. Scott Horsley of the NPR explains that immigration control has been a huge issue long before Trump, and there is a reason why he praised Obama’s work on immigration enforcement. While Repubs and Dems may seemingly have differing views on domestic policies, their foreign policies are eerily similar.

Dorchester, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

I believe that the motivation behind anti-immigration and migration movement ideas is simply just fear that is exerted as anger. These people don't want to show that they're scared or they're so used to masking their fear that they result to these hateful ideologies that are brought up many times. They are ideas that come from higher powers that these people follow and trust because they have a way to reflect their fears of immigration and find a stronghold solution for it. In the example of Trump and his administration, although anti-immigration movements were happening before he came to office, it was more prominent during his presidency because these people finally had a reason to back up their fear. In the article written on the Yale conducted experiment, it states how liberal people and powers will address this up tic of people at the border as 'manageable' but conservatives and republicans can't see that because their judgement is clouded by fear. I found it really fascinating how they were able to collect real life data of this.

I think another problem these anti-immigration have is their perception and views of history, because they don't seem to grasp or understand the fact that there were people here before us and technically we are all descendants of immigrants whether or not your family were teh first settlers from the may flower because classes in school focus so much on just how our nation won independence from a corrupt and bad monarchy in Britain, painting as 'deserving of this land' or that we are the 'rightful settlers. So i think that could also be where our problem starts with perception of history and their idea on what an immigrant is. These 'facts' and stories are so ingrained to our history and played on by political powers various times that it also factors in on their judgement and preys on their fears.

When watching the documentary in class and reading the article from Yale, I noticed that there is a pattern in the reasoning and fears they have of these "illegal" immigrants coming in. I noticed they used things like "the crime rates will go up", or "they'll take our jobs" and I kind of related that to the Chinese exclusion act, there were similar ideologies for the American people wanting to restrict or kick out these people. And in both cases I think there reasons are just to cover up their ignorance and racism, America's government doesn't want to come off as the bad guy for sending people in need back to their country because of their skin color or ethnic back ground but want to be seen as heroes for their people.

Posts: 10

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”: Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

I feel like some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants express opposition to different groups of people for all the same reasons. They’re threatened and worried immigrants will “steal their jobs,” they think immigrants leave their homes just for the benefits the US offers, and they believe immigrants don't belong, that they’ll “corrupt their country like they have their own” as one of the government workers said in the documentary. Some refuse to accept immigrants and help them settle in from a country where they face danger and violence, they blame the country's problem and corrupt government on the innocent who seek shelter. One of the narrators of the document we watched in class says, “If the statue of liberty could cry, she would be crying today.” The Statue of liberty is one of the most well known symbols, built for immigrants as it would be the first thing Europeans would see coming into NewYork in the twentieth century. The statue, obviously, is supposed to represent hope for immigrants finding opportunity in America but did it only apply to those who came from Europe? What about immigrants from Asia, or Latin America? The constitution states “all men are created equal” but that's just the thing, immigrants are dehumanized, when they arrive they are put in detention centers, some are separated from their families, and you might even find those who wear ankle monitors. I think this was evident during Sandra Hawckabee Sanders’ speech when a man asked her “You're a parent, don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through?” A question to which Sarah did not respond to. I think this just shows the mindset of a lot of the people who don't think of these families who are being separated, they have absolutely no empathy and could not care less about the parents and children. Warsan Shire wrote a poem with the title of, “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” If you can't humanize the actual person begging your government for help, at least learn how to humanize their choices. These people made the decision to leave their country, their home, in search of refuge. And as Shire expressed in her poem, no one would leave their home unless it is the most dangerous place you could stay in. Another thing that bothers me is that there are those who believe this land originally belonged to them and that's why they think they have the right to who they can let in or not, when in reality every white person has immigrants some time in their ancestry. This land belongs to the Native Americans, and what they are doing to Latin immigrants now is very similar to what they did to Natives in the sense that they are separating families. I think fear is the common factor between all the people involved, for immigrants fear being sent back to their countries and not seeing their families again, democrats and protesters fear the same because they want to help the ones in need. Republicans fear immigrants corrupting their country or taking over, which I find to be an excuse to cover up their reasons, which would simply be their racism.
Posts: 16

For a country literally founded by immigrants, there has consistently been anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the nation for generations. America’s ideals of self-determinism and independence spread, despite the fact that it often failed to distribute these rights equally or at all. As migrants began coming to the nation to either seek this ideal or to seek work, ‘Americans’ grew disproportionately fearful of these newcomers. Immigrants were an easy target, an easy scapegoat, to excuse ‘losing jobs’ and other economic issues in the country, racism playing a key factor in who was targeted the most and with the most aggression. This is seen clearly in the Chinese Exclusion Act, referenced in the article ‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, where Trump’s reasoning for further blocking immigration is a similar sentiment to that which passed the Chinese Exclusion Act: that immigrants were ‘stealing’ jobs and a ‘danger’ to American society.

There is also a consistent ‘Out of Sight, out of Mind’ mindset when dealing with immigration issues, as seen in Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind. A mentality that if you suppress the ‘problem,’ then people will ignore it. This is especially true in Frontline: Separated Children at the Border, where we see the government beginning programs to separate children long before making it public to the nation. It seems that using this same mentality, the government attempts to ignore the core issue as well as keep the general public from becoming aware of it.

Not only will the United States not provide asylum, it will force people into detention centers or not allow them into the country until a certain fixed point in time to prevent them from gaining citizenship rights legally. Some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants express opposition to immigration while making it a long and grueling process to manage legally, especially after having just escaped a horrific situation at home (“the mouth of a shark”).

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17
Some people in America seem to express opposition to immigration predominantly because of fear. An influx of undocumented immigrants can create a sense of unknowingness and thought to what kind of people are entering the country. People also view (economic) security as essential to living in society. A threat of losing job opportunities is a major way politicians influence civilians to think that immigrants are targeting Americans and that they should not be here. Looking back to the times of the Gold Rush and building of the First Transcontinental railroad, Chinese immigrants were wanted for labor and production. As the Washington Post article by Greenberger mentions, as soon as the economy started taking a downward turn in the 1870s, the Chinese immigrants were quickly resented and blamed for stealing all the job opportunities for the average American. This way of thinking is still relevant today where we see politicians like Trump say that immigrants are here to steal jobs, which creates an environment founded with hostility, anti-immigration beliefs, and racist ideals. The other Washington Post article by Bargh explains how conservatives base their views on physical safety. Anti-immigration beliefs rise when immigrants are seen as murderers and rapists or drug traffickers. Minority groups being referred to as germs or something “disgusting” is very dehumanizing and allows those, to group immigrants into this big bad category and therefore oppose immigration. Relating to this, is deportation and as mentioned in the NPR article, the number of deportations increased during Obama's start of presidency. With the Trump administration the lowering rates of deportation from the ending of Obama’s term, was reverted and the way in which detaining and processing occurred dramatically shifted. The film we watched in class highlights such shifts where children were deliberately being separated from their parents when arriving at the U.S. border. When politicians and anti-immigration believing individuals, generalize the intentions of immigrants it desensitizes them to the harm they are causing for thousands of families. In 2020 although children were ordered to be returned back to parents, there were still challenges that arose when trying to find a child. They were very disorganized which in my opinion shows that their intention was never to reunite kids with their parents. The short interview with Jacob Soboroff mentions how children are not taken properly cared for and getting covid at high rates. Environments like these and separation causes effects and is traumatic for these children. The last video by Jorge Ramos really exemplifies how poorly America has handled detention centers and camps for immigrants. Although these families are awaiting trials for seeking asylum in the U.S. they are located on the Mexican side of the border in order for the U.S. to not take full responsibility for their conditions and treatment. In reality the U.S. policies are the real reason as to why so many families are not able to find asylum and ultimately just suffer more than they already have.
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 14

"No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark"

The recurring theme is fear. Fear is universal and many past and present immigrants are not exempt from its grip. This overwhelming sense of anxiety translates into extreme ideologies which is most commonly exemplified in the paranoia that immigrants are flooding the States to steal our opportunities, our jobs, and our country.

I found the study done by John Bargh and the Washington Post particularly interesting. They focused on how fear and one’s reaction to physical fear have a correlation to political views. They noticed a commonality between individuals who are fearful of immigrants and change tending toward more conservative views. Furthermore, I think it makes sense that fear is one of the biggest manipulators and motivators. We may all have good intentions with the best interests of ourselves and others at heart, but fear can manipulate our choices in "threatening" situations. Thus many conservative leaders play on this vulnerability for votes and support.

The topic of immigration has become a "we vs. them" situation. For instance, according to Greenberger, throughout Trump's presidential campaign and presidency, he made clear a distinction between immigrants and the American people. He claimed that the lax immigration laws have “not been fair to our people, our citizens, and our workers.” This idea of possession–that America and its wealth and opportunities are the birthrights of Americans–is problematic on so many levels. It emphasizes a sense of entitlement in addition to fear to characterize the situation as a patriotic matter–something black and white. This kind of thinking harbors a lack of compassion and empathy amongst individuals, thus making it nearly impossible to support immigrants and approach the root causes of global immigration.

Furthermore, by presenting the situation as black and white, good vs. evil, politicians are creating a false dilemma. The American people are only presented with two options and government decisions although seemingly severe are justified as the lesser of two evils.

But what I found especially disturbing was the utter lack of empathy displayed by those in power. Jacob Soboroff mentions how officials "did not plan to put [families] together," and didn't care enough to know or track the number of children separated. The vast majority of American people may not know what is going on at the borders, but I was really taken aback by how removed decision-makers and government leaders were when dealing with immigration. How can you turn a blind eye, even worse condemn families, single mothers, teenagers, and children fleeing danger? They are real people with real families and real trauma ... what they are going through is very much real. Yet governors and politicians who are mothers and fathers with loved ones and children never batted an eye witnessing/knowing children being ripped from their mother.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”: Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

In America, there is a huge problem with anti-immigration protests. There is a stigma and stereotype against immigrants, claiming they are dirty, poor, criminals who threaten US safety. In the article about the Chinese Exclusion Act in the Washington Post, Chinese immigrants are referred to as "cheap slaves". In the NPR article about Obama's immigration laws, Trump praises Obama for his immigration enforcement, which isn't a good sign. Although Obama was a democratic president, his immigration laws seemed to be more moderate. He increased deportations, children were still separated from families, etc. Trump continued this pattern, with even more extreme practices, such as the zero tolerance policy. In my personal experience talking to family members/friends that have differing opinions about immigration, they have mentioned that the US cannot handle "so many people coming in from the Southern border", or "you don't know who they are, many of them can be unsafe, or be smuggling drugs across the border". This greatly surprises me, as both of these points have no factual evidence or strong support. People immigrate to the US every year from all over the world, Canada, Europe, Asia, etc. So why is it such a big problem when it's from South America, mainly Mexico and Guatemala? Also, what makes Americans so safe? You do not know that Americans aren't "smuggling drugs" either. Additionally, many of the migrants are coming to the US to ESCAPE these events, such as being threatened by gangs. People of past generations seem to have a less open mind, but the reality is, the United States is a country made up of immigrants. Lastly, as the article about fear from the Washington Post said, according to the data, conservatives have a larger amygdala, the fear center of the brain, than liberals. This is proven by my personal experiences, as they are fearful about immigrants coming into the country and their safety.

As in the MSNBC video interviewing 'Separated' author Jacob Soboroff, it is a question of power. People want to assert their dominance in this country. I think that the reason why conservatives oppose this the most is because many immigrants will have more democratic values, as they have gone through so much, and liberal ideologies resonate with them more. Conservatives fear that immigrants from the Southern border will change the political views of this country drastically. The reality is, there are 5400 children separated from their families. This, out of everything, should make people fearful. In the Real America video, children describe their everyday lives at the camp at the border. They are scared of what will happen, being constantly left in the dark and confused about their situations.

A large part of conservatives' fear also has to do with the immigrants voices. I think they are anxious that they will come together and speak up about these disasters at the border, and start resisting this more and more. Right now, there is little resistance, as Republicans have the majority, and even opposing Democrats don't have much say. But this, in conservatives' eyes, can change if more migrants come to the US.

Posts: 13

America was built upon the foundations of Protestant beliefs. But the Irish and Italians, who migrated to America not long after the Puritans, held a different religion—they were Catholic. This religious tension threatened the legitimacy of Protestantism and the authority of the Puritans in America, who claimed to be the first ones on the land. Despite now, where we consider all British, Italian and Irish communities to be “white,” religious conflict and fear among these groups began the hostility toward immigrants.

When the Chinese immigrated into the United States to escape the Cultural Revolution and the famine ongoing in their country, many settled for lower-income jobs as a means to build themselves up in America. Many participated in the development of the Transcontinental Railroad. But because of the Chinese people’s seeming eagerness to accept any type of job, some Americans were afraid and anxious that the Chinese were taking away “American” jobs, and that their existence threatened the job market, as people would hire Chinese folks who would be okay with being paid little. As a result, the Chinese Exclusion Act was enacted to hinder the Chinese from coming into the country. Restricting Chinese immigration, in this case, was meant to protect American citizens from foreigners (the Chinese) seizing the land of opportunity from the Americans (white people), who cannot afford for jobs to be lost as they too, need to find that upward mobility.

Nowadays, there are still remnants of that fear of immigrants. They’re foreign, they come from everywhere, and most of all, they’re unpredictable. Many citizens now have had a long history in America and may feel a sense of full belonging to America as if they had been there all along. According to Greenberger’s “Cheap Slaves,” Trump mentioned that Americans are “competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.” His statement refers back to the concerns prior to the establishment of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and his comment about the impact of immigrants in the economy implants fear into these same American citizens that the immigration will threaten their ability to secure a stable job today. For someone who may feel that America has personal ownership, the thought of competing with someone who might have a different cultural or national affiliation for a job may feel unfair. Therefore, Trump effectively urges people that he must build up the wall between Mexico and the US to prevent immigrants from coming illegally, and also to prioritize immigration policy in America.

But many immigrants, including refugees who come from Central or South America, seek asylum from difficult conditions—as emphasized in Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border, families were receiving death threats by gang members, and in Ramo’s “Real America,” drugs were being sold at schools and people were forced to pay unfair taxes or else, they would be killed. The documentary about the Darien Gap emphasizes just how much migrants are willing to risk coming to America—many die on the trail, starve to death, and even leave their children behind to escape the dangers of their home country. Even under such harsh circumstances, many citizens are not willing to provide these immigrants the support that they need in America. What if they’re drug dealers? What if they’re terrorists? And what if they’re coming here with criminal records?

In the Washington post article about a Yale experiment, it is specifically citizens who were fearful and felt unsafe in America who were more likely to reside with conservative values—that is, in strengthening up the border and regulating the immigration policies as a safe option. More progressive approaches in freeing up the country and offering asylum, as a result, is much less appealing to these people. Politicians and activists can use this information to their advantage. For example, Donald Trump riles up the fear in immigrants by calling them drug-dealers, competition, and criminals. By targeting at the fears of the American people, they can choose to convince the public to support or oppose immigration.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

As described in the Yale study by John Bargh, and through cultural examples throughout history, I believe that the main motivator for anti-immigrant sentiment among people already in the US, een among immigrants or descendents of immigrants, is fear and insecurity. Data incorporated into the article “Around the World, More Say Immigrants Are a Strength Than a Burden” shows that only 37% of Conservatives would describe immigrants as makin the US stronger, compared to 83% of people on the left. This connects clearly to the Yale study which demonstrates how Conservatives perceive physical danger stronger. Rhetoric in the media, and by prominent figures like Donald Trump often paints immigrants as a threat to American jobs and safety. Immigrants become easy targets, as they do not share the same protections as US citizens or permanent residents, and are therefore easier to turn away and “other”.

The fear and anxiety leading to attacks on immigration also leans heavily on racism. The article; “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act” illustrates how right from the beginning of US immigration policy, a key factor in the discriminatory practices enacted was race. Chinese immigrants at the time had worked on projects like the Transcontinental Railroad, servicing the whole country, in unsafe conditions with miniscule wages. Initially they helped make up for a labor shortage, but as that decreased, white workers panicked and used their ethnicity as an excuse as to why they should not be allowed into the country. Negativity towards immigration today often focuses heavily on the US-Mexico border where the majority of people seeking entry into the country are people of color.

This fear also creates a lack of empathy among those in power, leading to unsafe and dehumanizing conditions for those seeking asylum. As described in the article “5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws”, during his administration, President Obama formed DACA to protect immigrants who were brought to this country as children from being deported, allowing more than 600,000 young people to obtain work permits. Upon attempting to expand the program, several states challenged it, and it was decided that the program was unlawful, preventing new applications from being accepted. While the Obama administration initially increased deportations, they eventually declined significantly and, they focused less on the deportation of immigrants who had already become established. However, Donald Trump oversaw the introduction of harsher policies, such as the Remain in Mexico policy, affecting children like 9 year old Genesis from the video “Real America with Jorge Ramos: Migrant Kids Stuck at the Border”, who must remain in camps on the Mexico side of the border for the entirety of their case being processed. Immigrants who previously had been allowed to remain in the US were placed in family detention centers, and over 5000 children were separated from their parents as seen in the documentary we watched in class.

Posts: 15

Many Americans have sought to close the door to immigrants for a variety of reasons. One of the most commonly cited reasons is the perceived economic impact of immigration on the job market. Many Americans fear that immigrants will take away jobs from American citizens and reduce wages, leading to economic hardship for native-born workers. Additionally, some people have expressed concerns about the cultural and social impact of immigration, citing fear of cultural dilution and a perceived threat to American values.

Other reasons why some Americans have sought to close the door to immigrants include the belief that immigration strains government resources, such as housing, healthcare, and education; worries about the potential for illegal immigration; and concerns about the potential for immigrants to bring in diseases or other health hazards. Additionally, some people have expressed concerns about the potential for immigrants to bring in different political beliefs that could undermine the existing political system.

Finally, some Americans have also expressed concerns about the potential for immigrants to bring in criminal elements to the country. It is widely believed that some immigrants may be involved in smuggling and other related activities, and may bring with them an increased risk of crime and violence. As such, some Americans feel that the security of the country is best ensured by limiting immigration.

Solving the immigration problem in America certainly isn't a one-dimensional issue. As stated several times in the documentary we watched in class, we can always be more compassionate to liberals, and to conservatives, we can always be more secure and orderly. There is certainly a balance to keep our country in order without putting people's lives in danger, yet there is no denying the heartbreak we all went through when watching families being split apart.

There is an idea that Trump was so controversial on the topic of immigration, yet so have many presidents before him. In "5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws", we can see that deportations increased under Obama's presidency. The only way to stay out of trouble as a president is to not act at all, which may be the reason we haven't heard much about immigration under Biden's presidency.

What I have found through the past week is no matter the way our country adresses immigration, not everyone will be happy.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

There is no one reason for why some Americans oppose immigration so strongly. Economic instability or fear of losing jobs, strong nationalism leading people to believe they are superior to other countries which results in xenophobia, and simply put, racism, are all factors. Propaganda especially from media or the government or from other authority figures as well as a lack of personal experience and empathy could also contribute. The biggest factor, the factor that ties everything together and the root of this problem, is fear.

As discussed in the articles “Cheap Slaves” by Scott S. Greenberger and “5 Things to Know about Obama's Enforcement of Immigration Laws” by Scott Horsley, anti-immigration laws and sentiments are nothing new. Those who denounce Trump’s policies around immigration are right to do so, but they often don't know about the deportations that occurred under Obama and Bush. Although Trump's violent and insulting attitude towards non-white immigrants was unlike anything America had seen since 9/11. As we saw in the documentary from PBS “Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border” which we watched in class, Trump's openly racist remarks caused a disturbing surge in xenophobia. He called them “aliens” to dehumanize them and made other insensitive racist statements. He promotes fear culture by calling them criminals and warning of economic instability. And, as we also saw in the film, his followers seemed to lack concern or empathy for the immigrants and asylum-seekers whom they blamed for their problems.

A fearful person leads to a more defensive and less compassionate person. We saw this in the interview with the author of “Separated” Jacob Soboroff, and we can see this in the study conducted by Yale described in the article by John Bargh. It is more likely that conservatives will want restrictions on immigration, which can be as intense as Trump's movement centered around “building a wall”. If we want a better future for both Americans and those trying to enter our country for whatever reason, temporarily or permanently, we need to have a national movement to teach the truth about immigrants. We need to destigmatize and be more accepting of immigration, and teach Americans that their fear is unwarranted and unnecessary.

Posts: 12

So why do some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration? What do fear and anxiety have to do with it?

I think that the opposition to immigration in the U.S. comes from a combination of fear and entitlement. In the article, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions,” a study is conducted that proves that the stronger the fear of physical threat, the more conservative a person’s political views tend to be. The study also notes that conservative politicians, like Trump, would frequently refer to immigrants and minority groups as viruses and a threat to America. These stereotypes of immigrants increase an irrational fear in people who are anti-immigration of losing their status/land/jobs. This can be seen in the film we watched in class with the man who put up electric fences to keep immigrants crossing the border off his land. Due to this fear, he completely disregards the hardships that these immigrants faced in their journeys to the border on the Darien Gap and the reasoning behind why they made those journeys to begin with.

With all the anti-immigration views that are prominent among conservative politicians, immigration tends to be the scapegoat for many of the issues in America. These sentiments likely influence people who fear losing what they have in the U.S. or the stability/safety of the country being damaged on immigrants without fully understanding the motives and true stories of the immigrants themselves.

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